03:30 PM GMT July 01, 2020
#NextGenATP star Alex de Minaur is nicknamed ‘Demon’. His physical attributes — blinding speed and relentless groundstrokes — certainly make him a demon to play against. But it’s the 21-year-old’s attitude that sets him apart.
“Every day counts. You don’t realise that at such a young age, but as soon as you start maturing a bit and you have a couple more years of experience, you realise that if you want to be at the top and you want to play against these top guys, you’ve just got to constantly improve,” De Minaur said. “You can’t be satisfied with your level and where you’re at. You’ve always got to want to push for more and strive for higher: higher rankings, higher-level matches and hopefully beat higher-ranked opponents as well.”
De Minaur took his first tennis lesson aged four in Sydney. At five, his family moved to Spain for the next eight years. They returned to Australia for three years after that before going back to Spain once more. That was mostly because of his parents’ business. But De Minaur, who learned a lot from experiencing both cultures, enjoyed tennis through it all.
“I reckon as soon as I competed for the first time when I was eight years old [I] wanted to be a tennis player. I enjoyed it so much and since then I’ve just tried to play as much tennis as I could and improve as much as I could,” De Minaur said. “I’m fortunate enough to be in the situation that I am playing with all these guys who I grew up watching.
“Any time there was a Roger-Rafa final at a Grand Slam event, those were probably the matches I would watch on repeat, nonstop. Those are the matches that gave me the hunger and drive to achieve my dreams as a tennis player and to try and keep improving to hopefully one day be in that situation.”
De Minaur, a two-time Next Gen ATP Finals competitor, won his first three ATP Tour titles last year. He has overcome adversity, too. The Aussie dealt with a groin injury in the first half of 2019 and an abdominal tear earlier this season.
“There are always ups and downs in the journey. There are always bumps. But you just have to keep pushing through,” De Minaur said. “It’s not always going to go your way. But if you have the right mentality and you look at things in a positive manner, sort of putting yourself in the right direction, that’s the most important thing.”
Remaining close to his roots has helped De Minaur. He loves returning home to spend time with family when his schedule allows, and he has worked with the same coach, Adolfo Gutierrez, for the past decade. The World No. 26 believes Gutierrez helps keep him grounded and focussed on the "important things", including enjoying the work he puts in.
“We’ve grown up together. He’s watched me grow as a tennis player and as a person. It’s amazing to see the things we’ve been able to accomplish together,” De Minaur said. “He’s a constant reminder of where I came from and the struggles that have occurred for me to be where I am right now.”
De Minaur isn’t the loudest person off the court; he lets his actions and competitiveness speak for him. And as he continues his ascent, the Aussie will continue to leave everything he has out there.
“I would love to be known as that guy who is funny, nice and really chilled out off the court,” De Minaur said. “But as soon as I step out on court to be that guy who will never give up, will fight until the end and if you really want to beat him, you’re going to have to put me down.